Re-tree WNY plants 1,000th and final tree in University Heights

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) —Re-tree Western New York has been working tirelessly for the last two years in an effort to bring Buffalo back to what it was before the October storm of 2006.

Marwan Elbliety, President of the Inter Greek Society told News 4 many members of Greek life were out in support of the movement. He said, “Over 150 people showed up today to give back to the community today to plant trees so we can show the community we want to give back and support.”

Re-tree Western New York at its start had a goal of planting 1,000 trees all around areas hit hardest by the October storm. It’s a program that has touched the lives of many, even those who aren’t local.

Elbliety, originally from New York City, has made Buffalo his new home. He shared, “Buffalo is my second home, I spent almost 5 years here, and so giving back to Buffalo is like giving back to my home.”

Dani Weingarten, also from New York City didn’t know of the tragic storm but was thrilled to help out her college town anyway she could. She said, “I don’t think any of us were here for the storm but seeing that the town was effected we would like to help and participate in any way we can.”

The planting of the trees has made such a difference around the community that everyone wanted to get involved. Some students came back to volunteer numerous times.

Anthony Taboni, an honor student at UB was out with other members of the honor society early Saturday morning. He enjoyed it so much that this wasn’t his first time doing it. He said, “I ended up doing it last year with the honors college at UB and it was awesome to actually come out here and make an actual difference in the Buffalo community, because you can see it when you’re planting the tree that it’s actually something that helps the community.”

It helps the community in more ways than one. One of the biggest hurtles was to bridge the gap between students and community members. In addition the newly planted trees have helped to increase property value in the University Heights District.

Darren Cotton, Director of Community Development & Planting told News 4, “Here we are, two years later, and we’re about to put our thousandth tree in the ground. It’s been a great journey.”

And the journey doesn’t end here. Workshops on tree stewardship and maintenance will continue the project in a different way. Also the Re-tree movement plans to continue to planting in a new area.

Cotton said, “I don’t think Re-tree will ever really end, we’re going to keep planting trees just not at the scale that we have been.”